How Many Republicans Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb? Zero — There’s No More House – They Burned It Down

I’m not the first person to compare Donald Trump to an arsonist who sets fires then calls the Fire Department — then does everything he can to get in the Fire Department’s way when they show up to put out the flames. Incompetence is bad. Malicious incompetence is worse.

Republicans going back to Lee Atwater — one-time head of the RNC, political consultant to Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush’s campaign manager — have taken not so much a Machiavellian approach to governing as the approach Sherman took to Atlanta — he burned down the idea of government for the people by the people of the people and put up instead a strategy based on culture war against the left and outright refusal to even compromise with anyone not a Republican.

WASHINGTON – MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater are young political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo By Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

If you can measure a man by the company he keeps, measure Lee Atwater by the company he CO-FOUNDED — with Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.

Quick — If Lee Atwater, Paul Manafort or Roger Stone (or anyone in the Republican Party) had great ideas to sell, don’t you think they’d have sold them to us instead of always relying on cheating? The Chuck Todd’s of the world will insist that “both sides do it”. I dare anyone to point to a similar outfit that uses dirty tricks, deception & flagrant dishonesty to further Democratic Party ideals and goals. It doesn’t exist because it just isn’t how Democrats think.

Atwater wasn’t the first American political consultant to play dirty. We’ve done that since the Republic’s founding. Atwater however brought media savvy to the dirty. He made the dirty dirtier.

In his time, Atwater used racism to help elect George HW Bush (the Willie Horton ads) and the inference that House Speaker Jim Wright was gay. Atwater went after the voting rights act (cos isn’t that what Republicanism really is about?) and gave this honest answer to a journalist’s question about Atwater’s thinking (I’ve softened the language — taking out Atwater’s repeated use of “the N-word”)…

Y’all don’t quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying, “N-word, n-word, n-word”. By 1968 you can’t say “n-word”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busingstates’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this”, is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N-word, n-word”. So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the backbone.”

Whatever ya say, Lee, whatever ya say… Newt Gingrich picked up the mantle when Atwater was gone — cut down at 40 by a grade 3 astrocytoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer. Gingrich turned a hose running lighter fluid onto what Atwater had started. We’re still living in the ashes.

To Atwater’s credit, when an aggressive brain cancer cut his life short, Atwater had an actual “Come To Jesus” moment. He saw (most of) the error in his ways. He realized how greed (for money and power) had skewed his values — and, in the pages of Life Magazine, Atwater repented:

“My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The 1980s were about acquiring – acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.”

That “tumor of the soul” metastasized into Donald Trump. That sound you hear are the last embers of what was our Democracy flickering out.

What Did YOU Do In The Culture War, Daddy?

There are times — at the beginnings of wars usually — when one side knows a state of war exists while the other side doesn’t.  Pearl Harbor comes to mind.

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the residents of Hawaii — Pearl Harbor in particular — slept soundly in their beds, unaware that they were moments away from being bombed, strafed, shot at and in every way attacked.  Japan was at war with them.  Japan knew it — they, unfortunately for them, did not.

That’s pretty much how the Left has been reacting to the Culture War the republican party declared not just on the Democratic Party but on the majority of Americans, too.  We’ve been almost oblivious to it.  We’ve heard the war-like chatter in the background but we’ve never taken it seriously.  We damned well better — because the war Newt Gingrich talked his side into launching years ago has finally established significant beachheads in American Culture.

newt-gingrich

Michelle Cottle nails it: “In his zeal to cripple Democrats, Gingrich poisoned the public against the entire American political system. ”

In Newt’s own words: “You have to confront, delay, and undermine and impose failure in order to move the public.”

Newt made it his absolute goal to impose FAILURE on his perceived enemy — everyone who wasn’t HIM.  That included the CULTURE in which the rest of us live.

Right Wing Culture is a lot like what Astrophysicist Neil deGrsse Tyson calls the ‘Diminishing God of the Gaps’ — the place you go to when you reach the end of what you ‘know’.  Right Wing culture — once thought to be a significant part of American Culture is now understood to be a fringe element at best (and shrinking rapidly).  Right Wing Culture is that thing everyone with a sense of humor laughs at.

It is a fact of life that Right Wing Culture has no sense of humor.  Oh, it can laugh all right — at other people.  Especially if they’re suffering some sort of misfortune.  Then they turn hilarious. Right Wing Culture is sanctimonious.  It believes it understands the divine; it believes the divine has chosen it to be its representative here on earth.  Right Wing Culture is seriously delusional.

Right Wing Culture honestly believes that IT is American Exceptionalism — that its very whiteness and maleness and Christian-ness is exceptional.  It’s wrong of course.  America’s DIVERSITY is what makes it EXCEPTIONAL.  That kind of broad diversity never happened before in one country.  It produced remarkable — no, EXCEPTIONAL — results.

White Christian Male culture is the exact opposite of exceptional.  Aside from rage and grievance, it can’t point to a single thing it’s added to the conversation.  Being weak and having few weapons at its disposal, White Christian Male Culture counts on drawing us near enough to sneak in a dirty low blow to neutralize us.

They’re going to be disappointed this time.  A lot more of us are woke now.  We’re paying attention.

And — as much as we can — we’re doing the thing that cuts Trumpists & Religionistas & RW Culture Warriors deepest:  We’re laughing at them.

 

‘Both Sides Do It’ Is As Dubious As It Is Dead End

American journalism has multiple issues that prevent it from doing its job correctly.  Corporatism’s up there but we can’t blame corporatism for ‘Both Sides Do It’.

I’m curious — Is ‘Both Sides Do It’ (the market version of ‘False Equivalence’) actually taught at American journalism schools?  Is that where the Chuck Todds & Alex Witts & Andrea Mitchells & Wolf Blitzers & Chris Cilizzas of the world learned to ditch all analytical thinking and simply assume that all things are indeed equal?  They certainly couldn’t have ‘learned’ that from actually studying reality.  Or living in it.

The first thing ditched when a journalist tacitly accepts that ‘both sides do it’ is PROPORTION.  They could (and the Chuck Todds ALWAYS DO) ask the dopey ‘what if’ — “Well, what if this otherwise completely illogical, unbelievable thing were true…?”  The next thing they do — if there’s a shred of similarity — is “See?  Both sides DO do it!”

Yeah, Chuck Todd, they do.  Hey — didja know that humans and fish both ‘breathe’?  They do!  Both sides DO IT!  Of course, humans breathe air and fish breathe water but — that’s a minor detail, right — at least it always is where your storytelling is concerned:  “BOTH SIDES DO IT!”.

Let’s try on proportionality.  A man who steals because he is hungry vs a man who steals BILLIONS because he can.  Both men are thieves; BOTH SIDES DO IT.  The proportions aren’t quite the same though.

If journalism is an inquiry into The Truth, then any journalist taking up the mantle that ‘Both Sides Do It’ has just cut their vision of The Truth in half.  Maybe more.

Any journalist even ‘thinking’ that ‘both sides do it’ is a journalist who’s already left the building.

Bad enough as ‘both sides do it’ is as an ‘analytical tool’, it’s a hell of a lot worse as a basis for action — as in ‘both sides do it so here’s what WE should do…’.  There’s nothing of substance where the ellipse now is.  You can’t take ‘both sides do it’ and create actions to stop both sides from doing it.  It’s a dead end description — in addition to being inaccurate.

The way it almost always works — no, ALWAYS works — is we all turn to Liberals, Progressives and Democrats to ‘be the adult’ and step back from the precipice first.  No one ever looks to conservatives to make the first move because they know — compromise is not in any conservative’s DNA.  There’s a reason they’re conservative:  They want to CONSERVE something — the past is my guess.

Every time they compromise though, a piece of that past gets wiped away forever.  It’s no more than a memory now… .  Conservatives know that.  Newt Gingrich did.  newt-gingrichThat’s why his revolution allowed no compromise.  Compromise wasn’t just failure, it was extinction.  In response, Newt launched the full-on Culture War that got conservatives so crazed they thought joining forces with RUSSIA was an okay idea.  They thought taking Russian money and serving Russian masters was preferable to compromising with progressives.

Think about that.

One side does it for a specific set of reasons.  Conservatives and republicans ‘do it’ because they know the demographics are against them.  THEY ‘do it’ because their ideas appeal to fewer and fewer people — most of whom, it so happens, look just like them.  Conservatives do it because they dread losing power; they know it will never come back to them.  Not if Democracy works the way it’s supposed to…

Which brings us to Mitch McConnell — the man who has single-handedly destroyed the US Senate — the man who stood in the way of Barrack Obama telling America in September that our election was under attack from Russia — whose aim was to make Donald Trump president.

Mitch McC

Mitch, it turns out, has been taking Russian money forever… As in MILLIONS of it.  And we thought he was only the Koch Brothers’ lackey… Silly us.  Mitch literally robbed Barrack Obama — AND EVERY AMERICAN WHO VOTED FOR HIM — of the SCOTUS pick THEIR VOTE WON THEM.

‘Won’ them.  Or is winning different when Democrats do it?

DO both sides do what Mitch did?  No, both sides do NOT.   I rest my case.

Why Decency Effin’ Matters

Decency is now officially as dead as irony. That’s pretty damned dead. In American Politics, Decency died the day Lee Atwater went to work.

Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwate
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Lee Atwater’s the dude on the right — keeping company with Paul Manafort & Roger Stone.  During the 1980’s & 1990’s, Atwater ran campaigns for Ronald Reagan & George Bush before running the RNC.  Atwater didn’t invent dirty, malicious politics in America but he turned them from gamesmanship into brinkmanship.  He had no interest in compromise.  None.

Newt Gingrich picked up the mantle when cancer took a bite out of Atwater (though I bet cancer wished almost immediately it could spit Atwater out).

newt-gingrich

Newt turned Atwater’s political war against the Left into an all out Culture War.  We have not been the same since.

When you choose not to compromise with someone, you cease having to communicate with them  — except to tell them what you expect to DO to them.  It’s an aggressive act — cutting off effective communication with someone.  It’s a not-so-subtle declaration of War.  Culture War.  Political War.

It flows:  When you see yourself in a perpetual state of war, the people opposing you are your enemy — even if they’re your countrymen and they simply see a different way of solving the Nation’s many problems.  Decent people don’t see people they disagree with as their enemy deserving of cultural death.

But Newt did.  As did Lee.

Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — friends of Lee’s — went to work for Donald J Trump.  We all know where he stands vis a vis ‘decency’.

Another of Donald Trump’s mentors of course was Roy Cohn — another member of this despicable club.

And Roy Cohn famously worked for Joe McCarthy.  And Joe McCarthy famously got asked the very same question Donald Trump and the whole Republican Party need to be peppered with repeatedly:  “At last, sir, have you no DECENCY?”

‘MAGICAL THINKING’ isn’t ‘Thinking’, It’s BULLSHIT; That’s Not A Revelation…

There’s a phrase I’m fond of saying here:  “BACK IT UP OR IT’S BULLSHIT”.

I appreciate that it’s just easier to let other people think for you — especially where the Bigger Questions In Life are concerned.  Where did ‘This’ all come from?  Why are we here?  What is the point?

‘Cos god’ is what Institutional Religion wants you to buy — and they hit you early and hard to make you buy.  And, because they’re hitting you early, when you’re a kid, they know you have no capacity to fight back.  Or ask a good question or two.  Something that might stump them like: “What the hell are you TALKING about?”

Enter the ‘Mumbo Jumbo’… the ‘Ooga Booga’… The MAGICAL THINKING.

What happens when we die?  Heaven.  Proof of it’s existence?  Don’t need proof — faith.  Ah — and ‘faith’ in WHAT?

Faith in the Magic.  Faith that ‘The Magic’ is real.  Based on… nothing.  Because there never was anything to back it up.

For a generation now — since Lee Atwater & Newt Gingrich & Karl Rove & everyone who ever worked in the Nixon White House declared open cultural war on Progressive America (AMERICA in other words), actual data to back up and justify their policy initiatives and the direction they wanted to take America were totally non-existent.  But MAGICAL THINKING was suddenly available in abundance.

Liberated from having to actually BACK UP their claims, republicans and conservatives went hog wild — trickling down all kinds of bullshit on the heads of the American People.  Bullshit is like a booby trapped toy dropped into a war zone.  It looks so innocent when you pick it up — and then it ‘explodes’ inside your head.  Coat the Truth in enough lies often enough and the lie begins to cover up the Truth completely.

The story of how marijuana was ‘illegalized’ in this country comes to mind.  And while I’m at it, let me do a little cross pollenization —

https://www.marijuana.com/news/2018/08/blunt-truths-introduction-how-one-man-turned-the-law-and-society-against-weed/#comment-687464

Inevitably, Magical Thinkers legislate their Magical Thinking onto the rest of us.  We find ourselves subjected to laws and rules that WE KNOW are based on bullshit.  And we look around at each other and we wonder — how the hell did THE MAJORITY of Americans end up HERE — where BULLSHIT (Magical Thinking) gets taken seriously while The Truth gets tossed aside?

Bullshit — and those who deal in it — count on their bullshit causing confusion and disrupting logic.

Donald J Trump comes to mind, strangely…

Good thing the cure isn’t hard to find or take:  Read.  Learn.  Analyze.  Question.  Back It Up.